Council workers protest trade union legislation

Council staff picketing outside Worthing Town Hall (Lee Billingham, top right)
Council staff picketing outside Worthing Town Hall (Lee Billingham, top right)

COUNCIL workers in Worthing and Adur protested today (Monday, November 2) against the Government’s Trade Union Bill, set for a third reading in the House of Commons next Tuesday.

The bill, which passed its second reading by a margin of 317 votes to 284, introduces stronger restrictions on unions’ ability to organise industrial action.

As well as requiring turnouts of fifty per cent in strike ballots – and the approval of forty per cent of those eligible to vote, for strikes in core public services – the bill would raise the amount of notice unions are required to give for strike action from seven days to fourteen.

The proposed laws would also enable bosses to employ temporary agency workers to cover for those on strike.

Introducing the bill at its second reading last month, Business Secretary Sajid Javid described the proposals as ‘the latest stage in the long journey of modernisation and reform’.

He said: “(this bill will) protect the rights of everyone in this country—those who are union members and those who are not, and those hard-working men and women who are hit hardest by industrial action.”

But critics have characterised the bill as a draconian weakening of collective bargaining powers.

Worthing and Adur Unison steward Lee Billingham said: “There’s a clear purpose to undermine the political effectiveness of strike action.

“The bill is designed to prevent people striking and make things even more difficult for public service workers.”

Mr Billingham said that he expected further protests against the legislation as well as the Government’s cuts to public expenditure.

A mass lobby of parliament to protest the bill was also organised today.